Today, a substantial number of people slept in including us, while the more hardy travelers got up early for a nature walk that was an included activity of the cruise. Too early for us! They saw two baby orphan moose, which were carefully being observed by the rangers to see if they could survive in the wild, or had to be cared for. The walkers also said the scenery was great, and the discussion of culture was interesting.
We had breakfast with Mickey Harrison and some others at the Grizzly Bar and Grill,
and learned that she was very active with Women in Film. One of her recent films is award-winning “Agatha and Tilly”. We’ll have to check it out when we get home. We also learned about how her traveling companion, because she had Mexican citizenship and no Canadian visa, they wouldn’t allow her to board the airplane to Vancouver. Instead she had to take a flight to Ketchikan and join us there, missing the whole cruise. It seems to us Gateway Tours should have noticed the situation and made sure things were in order.
We then joined a later bus tour of the area, and saw the Hurricane Gulch Trestle, which is a railroad bridge 296 feet high, and spans the Chulitna River. It truly is a windy place, and during its construction the wind blew two men off the trestle to their death.
We had a fun stop at a sled dog facility, and we got to know the sled dogs up close. In the summertime, the “dog sleds” role on wheels so they can train all year long.
The next leg of our tour began at 2 o’clock, with a bus ride to Fairbanks. Actually it was a motorcoach as our bus driver explained because it had a toilet. Buses don’t have toilets. In this area there is a lot of strip coal mining, but the mining company is required to restore the land after the coal is removed.
We then were treated to a poem about a retriever who ate rocks, written and performed by Elmer. It was very funny and ended with the revelation that he is finding rocks of gold because he is a golden retriever.
We were in the vicinity of the Alcan highway which is 1500 miles long, and where engineers first had to deal with permafrost which is a problem when new construction melts the permafrost, and the ground becomes unstable. Also I noticed that in many cases the guy wires to powerline poles were slack, probably because all the ground was unstable. We learned about the Anderson (?) Homestead Lottery which turned out to be not that successful. Of the 26 homesteads that were granted, 26 were eventually foreclosed.
This was the area of the historic Athapaskan from which several other and you will tribes evolved. And some of the local laws include: No bear wrestling, and you are not allowed to look at a moose if you are carrying an ice cream cone.
There is a local lottery based on the exact time that the river thaws every spring. The way it is determined is that a line tied to a frozen log is attached to a tower and when the tower is pulled over, that is the instant of river thawing. The lottery prize has grown to $300,000. During the winter, the wood frog does not hibernate like many other animals. It actually freezes in the mud and thaws in the spring. It’s cells contain antifreeze which present the animal’s cells from being destroyed.
T. Barnett’s story is interesting. Back in 1901 he sailed up the Yukon River with the intent of opening a trading post at a particular location on the river. However the captain of his boat, for some reason, decided he could go no farther and dumped them on the shore with his supplies, way short of his planned destination. Having no other choice, he opened a trading post where he was dumped and was quite successful, and eventually the town of Fairbanks was founded. Barnett himself opened the bank and wound up embezzling funds from his clients. He escaped to Valdez, but the town continued. It was eventually named Fairbanks after a US senator and vice president to Teddy Roosevelt.
That evening we had supper with the Mostardos and the Bjernefalts at the Pike’s Landing. First decided to join a larger group of our travelers in the main dining room, and they made room for us, but we found too hot and noisy, so we moved to the patio just outside under an awning. But it was not near enough to the water, so we moved to a third location, right on the river. But that table faced right into the setting sun, so we moved again to another table on the water. When it became time for dessert, it was too cold, so we moved once more, this time back
to the patio under the awning. Apparently, we are a very particular group of people!